Detroit-Area Primaries: Oakland prosecutor loses; Worthy stays as Wayne prosecutor

August 05, 2020, 12:34 PM

By Allan Lengel and Violet Ikonomova

Results in prominent Metro Detroit primaries are clarified Wednesday morning as Wayne County clerks nearly finished counting absentee ballots. County Prosecutor Kym Worth decisively beat challenger Victoria Burton-Harris.

In Oakland, County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper loses to Karen McDonald, a former assistant in her office.

Worthy is ahead 60% to 37% with all but five dozen precincts tallied by mid-afternoon.

Karen McDonald, left, is nominated for prosecutor in Oakland and Kym Worthy is in the lead to keep her job as Wayne prosecutor.

Worthy had 164,190 votes to her opponent's 98,602. More than a quarter-million votes were cast.

In a state House race in Detroit, former gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanadar is the Democratic nominee (and sure general election winner) to represent the 3rd State House District. He has 4,730 votes with all but one precinct counted, outpacing seven other candidates.

Counting delays are blamed on a large increase in absentee ballots. "As this is an unprecedented election, with increased absentee voter participation, there is no way to anticipate what time the final unofficial results will be reported," County Clerk Kathy Garrett says in a statement quoted by the Free Press

Burton-Harris, 33, is one of several progressives challenging incumbents for prosecutor in Southeast Michigan amid nationwide calls to overhaul the criminal justice system. She ran on a reformist agenda to stop punishing punitive crimes and end cash bail, winning the endorsement of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Worthy has held the seat since 2004 and gained nationwide attention with her push to process a backlog of rape kits.

In Oakland, former Circuit Court Judge McDonald decisively beat longtime prosecutor Cooper, with 111,675 votes (66%) to Cooper’s 57,457 (34%) with all ballots counted. 

McDonald is running to reform what she calls a "wealth-based" and discriminatory criminal justice system. She was endorsed by Attorney General Dana Nessel and both Detroit daily newspapers.

Cooper has been reluctant to support alternatives to jail and allow for the release of juvenile lifers. She’s also been notoriously tough on people accused of non-violent marijuana crimes.

Washtenaw prosecutor

In Washtenaw County, progressive Eli Savit won a three-way race to replace Prosecutor Brian Mackie, who didn't run again. Savit is senior legal counsel for the city of Detroit and a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. No Republican is running in November.

Oakland executive 

In another high-profile contest, Oakland County Executive David Coulter fended off a challenge by county Treasurer Andy Meisner. The incumbent has 91,795 votes (53%) to Meisner's 80,323 (46.6%). 

David Coulter, left, and Andy Meisner

Meisner ran attack ads during the campaign, but business and unions backed Coulter.

Coulter, 60, was the mayor of Ferndale when the Board of Commissioner picked him to finish the term of  L. Brooks Patterson, who died last August at 80. Meisner has been county treasurer for 11 years.

The winner will face Republican Mike Kowall.

In another race of interest in the western part of the state, military veteran Peter Meijer, grandson of the retail chain founder, declared victory Tuesday night in the Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, who had abandoned the GOP after sharply attacking President Trump.

We’re going to bring it home in November,” Meijer, 32, told supporters gathered at the Tanglefoot building in Grand Rapids on Tuesday night, according to MLive.

“We’re going to make sure that we show what West Michigan is all about — running a campaign here that makes everyone proud, so we can make sure we’re delivering value up and down the ticket and making sure that we continue to elect strong Republican leaders in West Michigan in 2020.”

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